Thursday, September 30, 2010

Why I Love "Jersey Shore"

To get down to it: I love Jersey Shore because of the community that the producers of the show and the natural chemistry of those involved have created. By "community" I mean both in the sense of the actual communal living and interactions, but also the larger, almost Zeitgeist, embodiment of all that is right and wrong with pop culture today. In Jersey Shore, you see the tightness of a community, especially among Vinny, Pauly, and Mike, that I really miss right now. Even though their motives are often puerile and self-serving, there is a real love of each other that I don't think the producers needed to cultivate - I think it's just naturally there. And that love for one another pulls me in as a viewer and makes me feel like a part of their emotional lives.
Next is the constant drama, that may or may not be fabricated from show to show. The feeling of anticipation that is created at each commercial break, a wondering what will happen next, makes for compelling television, even if the fulfillment of that anticipation is totally morally deficient. Yet in the drama, I think the show strikes on an issue that is extremely relevant and resonating within the lives of the mainly teenage audience of the show: loyalty and respect. Loyalty is a huge theme throughout the show, seen especially in Ronnie and Sam's relational saga, but also on every other level of all the housemates' social interactions. You can get away with a great deal as long as you remain loyal. Teenagers long for friends who are above all loyal to them and their wishes and expressed feelings about things. As far as respect goes, or lack thereof, Angelina finally left the show tonight, and not a moment too soon. Why did she feel as though everyone else in the house hated her? They had no reason to respect her, because she did nothing to respect them. She actually purposefully sought to disrespect them.
Finally, returning to the idea of the Zeitgeist- I love the Jersey Shore because it holds up a mirror to adolescent (and adult) vapidity and vanity, but also the longing for connection and a sense of belonging. It celebrates the self and the drama of human relationships in a way that leaves one thinking that we are all not so different from one another, that our inner worlds might not be so ostentatiously self-serving, but still exist in a potent and seemingly endless variety of ineffectual self-pleasing mechanisms that all inevitably fail. What is the point of the show? To where does it lead? I can't imagine anywhere entirely meaningful. They are there to have fun, and to a certain extent so are we. We cheer in the cosmic drama of Angelina leaving the show because we feel that right has prevailed, but to what end? The Jersey Shore is both a break from our own cosmic struggle for connection and belonging, but also a creative submersion into a parallel universe, a world very similar to our own, in which our struggles are played out in fist fights and trash talking and stealing girls at clubs. Their world is a safe space for our beleaguered emotions to duke it out, and hopefully come to some happy resolution at the end. I just love the Jersey Shore. Judge me if you must :)

1 comment:

  1. The most cogent articulation of the virtues of the show I've seen, Adam. Still: Judging=commenced. :) (PS this is Ben if you can't see that)